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BWW Review: Trinity Rep's Joyous Return to Live Theatre with A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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This year marks not only Trinity Repertory Company’s 45th annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but also the company’s return to live theatre after nearly two years - and what a return it is!

BWW Review: Trinity Rep's Joyous Return to Live Theatre with A CHRISTMAS CAROL

This year marks not only Trinity Repertory Company's 45th annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but also the company's return to live theatre after nearly two years - and what a return it is!

This production feels particularly joyous, and, as directed by resident company member Joe Wilson, Jr., celebrates community, culture, and ritual with the unique flair Trinity Rep is known for.

At the start of the play, a ghost light is central and many set pieces are covered with tarps, reminiscent of the opening scene of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. When the actors appear, the light is taken away, the coverings removed, and it truly conveys the sense that theatre, as a live art form, is back.

At the center of the show is, of course, Ebenezer Scrooge, portrayed by longtime resident actor, Timothy Crowe, who has stepped into the role 14 times between 1988 and now. This year, Crowe's Scrooge is snippy, short-tempered, and skeptical, and even remains physically distant from everyone. In other words, a perfect distillation of the character.

In this year's version we are shown more extensive back story of Scrooge and his previous business partner, Jacob Marley (Ricardo Pitts-Wiley) via flashbacks, which highlights the distance that grew between the two men long before Marley's death. Jacob Marley's arrival is heralded by menacing strings and ghostly voices singing "Silent Night." He is laden in chains and white face paint, a truly haunting specter of the fate awaiting Scrooge should he not change his ways.

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Ava Gaudet) appears, exquisitely, as a spear wielding Roman goddess, with white robes, a broad belt, and silvery hair. A particular highlight of this section of the show is the grand and boisterous party at Fezziwig's factory (Richard Donelly). Full of raucous dancing that had the audience clapping along, there is even an aerial hoop acrobatics routine by one member of the cast.

Another highlight is Stephen Thorne's portrayal of the slightly chaotic and flamboyant Ghost of Christmas Present. Between his exaggerated mannerisms, and brightly colored suit and top hat, he could almost be a Christmas-time Willy Wonka, here to cause in equal parts hijinks and self-reflection for Scrooge. Aside from the usual scenes presented by the Ghost of Christmas Present, a brief reference from the story itself is more fully fleshed out on-stage, showing how even a group of hard-working miners acknowledge the day with a soulful song.

Taking a more somber turn, The Ghost of Christmas Future mostly appears as a silhouette behind a large sheet upstage, occasionally materializing in a dark hooded robe with frightful World War I style gas mask. This section culminates in a truly haunting use of light, sound, and fog rising from under the stage to show Scrooge the fate that may be his.

The beautifully created, multi-level 19th century style set catches the audience's eye, and is utilized well, with few changes throughout the show's many scenes. The lighting, sound, and music arrangements (played live by a five piece ensemble), combined with talents of the cast that are always top-notch, truly make this year's A Christmas Carol a production that is not to be missed.

Trinity Repertory Company presents A Christmas Carol, directed by Joe Wilson, Jr. In-person performances run through January 2, 2022. On-demand streaming December 6 - January 16, 2022. Tickets are on sale by phone at (401) 351-4242, online at www.trinityrep.com/carol, or in person at the theater's ticket office at 201 Washington Street, Providence. Trinity Rep's 2021-22 Season is sponsored by Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA).

Pictured: Timothy Crowe as Ebenezer Scrooge and Stephen Thorne as the Ghost of Christmas Present. By Charles Dickens; Original Music by Richard Cumming; Directed by Joe Wilson, Jr.; Set Design by Sara Brown; Costume Design by Kenisha Kelly; Lighting Design by Amith Chandrashaker; Sound Design by Larry D. Fowler, Jr. Acoustic Sound Design by Ashley Frith; Photo by Mark Turek.


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